-OS Hub staff

The 1853 former Grey County Courthouse building may have another lease on life.  The heritage building, along with the adjacent jail and yard were sold for $10 in 2015 to a developer of long-term care facilities who sold the property back to the city a year later. The Tom Thomson Art Gallery is once again looking at the 3rd Avenue East property for its renewal  and expansion plans.

The following is the text of the report by the City Manager accepted by Owen Sound Council October 17.

The City of Owen Sound owns the former Grey County Courthouse and Jail facilitylocated at 1235 and 1259 Third Avenue East. The buildings have been deemed surplus property for the current and future needs of the City.

In 2014 the property was marketed for sale and was conditionally sold in July 2015. The prospective redevelopment could not be accommodated on the site and the property remains in the City of Owen Sound's ownership.

The structures as they stand today, will require significant upgrades to be inhabitable. It is in the best interest of the building and the neighbourhood that redevelopment in whatever form it will be occurs as soon as possible.The community appreciates the heritage designation of the buildings; and Council should be prepared to work with a purchaser in order to preserve as many heritage features as possible in an "adaptive reuse".

The Tom Thomson Art Gallery Incorporation Committee has a vision for the site. They see a renovation that would integrate many of the heritage features of the building into the gallery. The vision would require substantial fundraising and/or grant funding. The Art Gallery Incorporation Committee has worked with the City for the past few months to undertake some due diligence and preliminary study of the buildings.

The City could have the property listed for sale on the open market. Some of the conditions would need to include: redevelopment to occur in a stated period of time; some designated heritage features being maintained in redevelopment; the building be maintained in its current state during any conditional time period.With the current state of the building and these conditions attached, it is unlikely that acceptable offers would be submitted.

The City could place the property for sale under a Request for Proposal scenario. An information package  would be prepared for all prospective purchasers toreview along with "tours" of the site. A closing date for bids would be established that allowed sufficient time for interested parties to prepare their proposals. A scoring tool would be used to "short list" the proponents and the highest scoring proposals would have the opportunity to present their proposal to Council. This would require staff time to prepare the information package, tour interested parties through the property, analyze the submitted proposals and report to Council.

When reviewing the past history of this property it appears the best opportunity for the building to be redeveloped retaining as many of the heritage features as possible and in the most reasonable and achievable time line is to work with the Board of the TomThomson Art Gallery, and the Tom Thomson Art Foundation Board.





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